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Hand, foot and mouth disease: Causes, symptoms and prevention measures

HFMD is a common infection in children that causes sores in or around the mouth and a rash or blisters on the hands, feet, legs, or buttocks. This condition can be painful, very contagious, but not serious.

Causes of hand foot and mouth disease

Hand, foot and mouth disease is caused by viruses of the Enterovirus strain, usually coxsackievirus A16 and enterovirus 71.

Anyone can get it, but infants and children under the age of 5 are most likely to get it. The disease tends to spread easily in the summer and fall.

Symptoms of hand foot and mouth disease

Early symptoms may include: Fever, sore throat, painful blisters inside the child’s mouth, often on the back or on the tongue, irritability, loss of appetite, fatigue, irritability, drooling , headache.

A day or two later, a rash and blisters appear on the hands, feet, or mouth, or flat, sore spots on the knees, elbows, or buttocks,

Sores in the mouth will make it difficult for the child to swallow. If your child eats or drinks less than usual, then you should monitor the condition in the mouth. Make sure your child gets enough fluids and nutrients.

How is hand, foot and mouth disease spread?

Hand, foot and mouth disease is spread by direct contact with saliva, feces, secretions from blisters, respiratory droplets after coughing or sneezing, surfaces with traces of the virus, close contact such as kissing, hugging, sharing cups, or sharing utensils.

Complications of hand, foot and mouth disease

Symptoms of hand, foot and mouth disease usually resolve on their own within 7-10 days. If symptoms become severe or don’t go away in 10 days, take your child to the doctor to avoid complications.

Rare complications may include:

– Dehydration if mouth sores make it difficult to swallow liquids

– Viral meningitis

– Encephalitis

– Myocarditis

– Paralyze

How to treat illness?

There is no specific medicine or vaccine for hand, foot and mouth disease. However, you can reduce the symptoms of the virus in the following ways:

Take an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen, or an oral numbing spray. Do not use aspirin because it can cause serious illness in children.

Cold foods such as ice cream, yogurt or smoothies to soothe a sore throat. Avoid acidic foods and drinks like orange juice as they can irritate the sores.

Anti-itch lotions, like calamine for rashes.

Older children and adults can also ease the discomfort of gargling with salt water.

Prevention of hand, foot and mouth disease

Take these steps to reduce your risk of spreading HFMD:

– Wash your hands often, especially after changing diapers or wiping your baby’s nose; Help children keep their hands clean.

Teach children to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing or coughing.

– Clean and disinfect shared surfaces and items such as toys and doorknobs.

– Do not hug or kiss someone with hand, foot and mouth disease; Do not share cups or utensils with them.

Do not send your child to school or daycare until the symptoms disappear.

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